I’m not usually the sort of person who gets impressed by auxillary tech. Special controllers, special headsets, special anything for that matter – it takes something truly, well, special in order to stand out for me. I had the opportunity to test drive SteelSeries’ Siberia Elite Prism headset, and when I said I’d take it for a spin, I meant it; not only did I test its performance as a gaming headset, but I put it to the test in music performance from PC and my phone as well as tested its viability as a desk-based communications solution. While I didn’t find it to be a perfect product, I certainly found it to be an excellent one, and perhaps special enough to justify its $200-ranged price tag.
To start, let’s talk comfort and usability. The headset requires a software package in order to be used to its maximum capacity, but the installation is quick and easy, and the software itself has a clear user interface that gives direct access to the things a person is seeking. There are options for mic sidetone, mic noise reduction and compression, as well as Dolby Surround with an equalizer to fine-tune playback tone levels to individual preference. There are also neat LED lights in the sides that can be set to solid colors, set to shift on and off in a smooth “breathing” transition, or even set to shift colors of the spectrum. Sadly, those spectrum shifts are not able to be fully-customized, and for a headset that touts the potential for millions of colors to be displayed via those lights, not giving complete user control over that is a loss.
Construction seems solid enough, as the inner resistance band conforms to the top of the head with padded foam on the underside of the strap while the metal frame that arches above that connects the two earpieces with stability. The foam cups that sit on the ear are extraordinarily generous and comfortable, and really lock out sound from the outside world. I have used this headset for silence on many occasions since opening the box, and that’s not a knock at all – quite the opposite, actually. When sound is playing it is crisp and clear, and while the low end is adequate, bassheads may not find this headset to be the end-all, be-all solution they’re looking for. Volume is not exceptionally high, either, as it is loud enough to be enjoyed while never able to be strong enough to truly immerse yourself in the wall of sound that the ear cups’ silence teases.
Microphone quality is nice, and the sound produced by it is more than adequate. The compression and noise reduction really keeps mic sound clear and clean, and turning off both mic options really made a difference in the way I sounded to others. I turned them both back on immediately. This made a difference not only in gaming sessions on PlayStation 4 and PC, but also made a world of difference in Skype calls, Google Hangouts and other VOIP-based calls in my office. The microphone is retractable, and the mechanism that it uses seems like it could break very easily if pulled too hard, but it is a nice touch nonetheless. The left ear also has a dial that allows a hard mute function on the mic, and the tip of the mic has a white LED that lights up to let you know at a glance that you’re muted. Alternately, the right ear piece dial controls headset volume.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk performance. Music performed very well on PC and through my iPhone, but I never felt like I was able to fully push it to the volume or bass level that I tend to enjoy. The highs are clear and the midrange is sufficiently rich, but the low end feels like it’s only operating at 90% of what the other areas are achieving. This may have to do with the fact that the volume levels never reach “jam out” loud, no matter how far you max the headset’s volume, equalizer settings or main source volume. Communication is clear and crisp, so that’s certainly a plus here. The lights are a cute addition, but they’re completely ancillary to the rest of the package, truthfully speaking. You can’t customize the lights the way you like if you want to cycle colors, and while the in-game stuff is a cool touch (color-based health display for games like CS:GO, etc.), it’s not really as important as great comfort and great sound, especially at the price point that the headset retails for.
Beyond that, it’s wired. The headset comes with a USB sound card that drives the device, and while the extension cable included with the package is very generous, it’s still going to require you to be tethered to what you’re connected to. That’s not entirely bad, because I couldn’t see a headset like this being used with portability in mind, as it is rather bulky and takes up a fair amount of space when it’s not being used. PC and Mac is where the device truly shines, but the headset worked well through the 3.5mm jack connection for both PlayStation 4 and iOS devices.
In closing, the SteelSeries Siberia Elite Prism is a fantastic headset for the person who prizes comfort above all else and is dedicated to staying in one place. The sound quality may not provide all the punch in the world, but it does the job, and admirably well, at that. The mic options are fantastic, but are only able to be used on the PC and Mac platforms, as that is the only place where you can use the device’s driver for Dolby sound and a clearer, kinder voice. However, those looking to use it for consoles or as a walking-around headset may find a much better way to spend $200, depending on their tastes. I enjoyed this headset most for office work and long teleconferences, and while it may make you look like you brought your DJ equipment to the office, you’ll be the most comfortable listener – and clearest speaker – during your next Skype meeting.
This accessory was provided by the manufacturer.
Solid construction and comfortable design makes this headset a stylish, yet bulky treat.